Part 1 of a list of puppeteers, all born in January. A special thank you to Steve Abrams for putting this blog post together. Part 2 will be posted in a couple days!
Margo Rose (Jan 31, 1903- Sept 13, 1997) At the end of January the Connecticut Guild of Puppetry has an event to honor the birthday of Margo Rose and to raise funds for Margo Rose Scholarship Fund. Margo Skewis and Rufus Rose (1904-1975) met while performing in the Tony Sarg Company. They married in 1930 and founded the Rufus Rose Marionettes, widely considered one of the finest marionette companies in the country. In the 1950s Rufus and Margo created puppets for the Howdy Doody Show. The Roses were involved with Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center from its founding 1964. Rufus and Margo were excellent teachers of puppetry, always eager to share skills. After Rufus passed away Margo continued on for 22 years, her kindness and encouragement lovingly remembered by several generations of puppeteers. Photo from the collection of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, University of Connecticut.
Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) (Jan 27, 1832 – Jan 14, 1898) The author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland wrote, directed and performed puppet plays for his family and neighbors when he was a boy.
Judy Barry Brown (Jan 7, 1941-March 8, 2013) Judy Brown’s ability to make any story hilariously funny is unsurpassed. She met future husband, Bob Brown at the national festival in Miami in 1964, the start of a beautiful 49-year partnership.
Alexandra Exter (Jan 6, 1882 – March 17, 1949) An artist and set designer, born in Russia, and living in Paris after 1924. In 1927 she built a series of amazing cubist marionettes intended for use in a film.
Brad Williams (Jan 8, 1951-1993) At Hope College Brad met and worked with puppetry legend, Burr Tillstrom. Brad was a graduate student at University of Connecticut 1975-1980. He was a gifted calligrapher and designer as well as puppeteer. Brad created Rex Readasaurus seen on ABC in 1988. He also worked on the show Pinwheel for Nickelodeon. It was a great loss when this warm, sparkling artist died in an accident at age forty-two.
Bob Bromley (Jan 9, 1907-1981) In the 1930s Bob Bromley worked with the Yale Puppeteers and then he directed the WPA Los Angeles marionette unit. In the 1940s 50s and 60s Bob Bromley’s solo cabaret style work was featured all over the world, including an engagement at the Royal Variety Performance in the UK
Molka Reich (Jan 1, 1901-July 9, 1992) After working with Remo Bufano in NY, Molka moved to Miami in the early 1930s. She directed the marionette unit of the Miami WPA. In the early 1950s, when Senator McCarthy’ was bullying and blacklisting, she joined with other artists who refused to testify. She was found guilty of contempt and briefly jailed for her resistance.
Harro Siegel (Jan 24, 1900-Dec 6, 1985) He founded and operated a puppet theatre in Brunswick Germany.
Ralph Chesse (Jan 6, 1900-March 17,1991) A puppeteer, artist and actor who performed Hamlet and Emperor Jones with marionettes, and then in the early 1950s became a television puppeteer. Ralph was a mentor to Lettie Connell Schubert and to his son Bruce Chesse.
Roger Hayward (Jan 7, 1899-1979) A puppeteer from Pasadena, who created a production of “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in 1934. Photos published in Cyril Beaumont’s 1938 book Puppets and the Puppet Stage and again in Puppets and Puppetry 1958
Edward Gordon Craig (Jan 16, 1872 -July 29,1966) The son of a great English actress, Craig was a scenic designer, author, theorist, and provocateur with a life-long interest in puppetry. His essay on the “ubermarionette” is frequently cited.
Arlyn Coad (Jan 10, 1927-May 27,1999) Luman and Arlyn Coad founded Coad Canada in 1966. The company has won numerous awards and performed at many numerous international festival. To honor her superlative design talent, the Arlyn Award was created to recognize truly outstanding design for puppet theatre.
Hazelle Hedges Rollins (Jan 12, 1910-March 3, 1984) The well-made Hazelle Marionettes started countless young puppeteers on the path to greater involvement with puppetry. Hazelle opened her Kansas City, Missouri, marionette “factory” in the middle of the depression and turned it into a great success, a remarkable achievement. Hazelle donated some of her most valuable antique puppets to the Smithsonian.
Anthony Minghella (Jan 6, 1954 -March 18, 2008) Best known as the Oscar winning director of the film “The English Patient,” Minghella was the author of the beautifully written scripts for Jim Henson’s Story Teller series. In 2006 he directed the opera Madam Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera, and his use of Bunraku-style puppet for the child, was widely praised. Photo from Metropolitan Opera production of Madama Butterfly, puppet by Blind Summit